So Bruce Arians said something interesting about veteran cornerback Jerraud Powers this week. After Tuesday's practice, Arians said he was always confident in the team's ability to replace cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who left in free agency after one season in Arizona to join the New York Jets.
"That was easy," Arians said (via AZCardinals.com). "He probably played better in pass coverage than Cro did and he's a better tackler."
On the surface, it seems laughable. However, it isn't completely crazy. As Darren Urban noted in his article about Powers on the team's official website, Pro Football Focus grades show Powers was a +5.0 in coverage in 2014. Cromartie was en even 0.0.
It isn't completely fair to compare those grades, though, as the two corners covered different receivers. Cromartie was lined out outside and covered one of the top receivers. Powers played in the slot and covered slot guys. But in 2013, when Powers played on the outside, he was a -0.9. Not bad and not good.
Looking more at coverage raw numbers, Cromartie was targeted 94 times and QBs completed 51 of those passes. He was scored on twice and intercepted four passes and defensed another seven. Qbs had a passer rating of 74.9 going against Cromartie.
Powers was targeted 87 times and 57 of those passes were completed. He gave up two touchdowns and intercepted three passes. He defensed five passes and QBs had a passer rating of 83.1 when targeting Powers.
In other words, covering slightly lesser competition, Powers did almost as well as Cromartie.
In 2013, Powers was targeted 122 times and QBs completed 60 percent of their passes targeting him. He gave up three scores and had one interception. He gave up a passer rating of 89.9.
Arians was not saying Powers was more talented, but he has said Powers played the best out of any corner on the roster last season.
Powers does add a dimension that Cromartie is not great in -- run support. Cromartie is not known as a tackler. Powers is a solid tackler and is not afraid to get in there and make plays against the run. It is an important thing to do because, for a guy like Cromartie reputedly is, you essentially take one defender out of the play to stop the run. Arizona has to stop the run to be successful in the NFC West. Having a Powers to help is not a bad thing.
Arizona's defense was better against the run and against the pass in 2013 when Powers was a starter on the outside. Now that isn't fair to pin the success on Powers or the 2014 failures on Cromartie, but the Cardinals defense was no abomination with Powers starting.
Maybe Powers isn't as talented or gifted as Cromartie, but he is not a bad option to have as a starter.